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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Four Great Reads for the Halloween Season

Guest Writer: Zachary T. Owen

The Ratman's Notebooks
by Stephen Gilbert (1969)

Until relatively recently, all of Stephen Gilbert's books were long out of print, including his most famous work—The Ratman's Notebooks. This late 60s thriller is immensely entertaining and a quick, easy read. It was the basis for the made-for-television horror classic Willard, its sequel Ben, and the 2003 theatrically released remake starring Crispin Glover in the title role. Willard, or The Ratman, is much less sympathetically portrayed in the novel. In fact, he's quite a fiend, with a huge appetite for hatred and a disdain for humankind as a whole. Armed with an army of rats who will do his bidding, he eventually bites off more than he can chew, putting everything he's worked for at risk. (Buy it Here)

Completely Doomed
by Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, David J. Schow, and F. Paul Wilson (2007)

This underrated collection of black and white horror comics adapts stories by genre heavyweights Bloch, Matheson, Wilson, and Schow. Not every story is a winner, but the artwork is consistently pretty great, the variety admirable, and the overall tone a perfect dose of nostalgia for fans of comic books in the vein of Tales From The Crypt and Eerie. It's a fun, gruesome read. The final story in the collection, F. Paul Wilson's “Faces”, still creeps into my thoughts from time to time—it's truly haunting. (Buy it Here)

Rasputin: A Short Life
by Frances Welch (2014)

Why not read a little nonfiction in October? If you're looking for the definitive historical account of Rasputin and his mysterious death, there are other books that go into great, painstaking detail about the Mad Monk's bizarre and brief influence over the Tsar and Tsarita of Russia. Frances Welch's account of “dark forces” allegedly controlling Russia focuses more on the spooky rumors and outrageous accounts of Rasputin. Reputedly he could expand and contract his pupils at will and had powers of hypnosis. Many thought him to be mixed up in the occult, others believed he was a direct line to God. Did you know Rasputin “healed” some women by massaging their butts? Don't even get me started on how many people claimed to own his severed penis after his death. But most interesting of all is how many times his corpse was stolen, once even rising up while on fire (probably because the grave robbers didn't cut his tendons before trying to cremate him, but hey, it's still pretty creepy). There are few historical figures as captivating, alluring, and ultimately repulsive as Rasputin. (Buy it Here)

The Great God Pan
by Arthur Machen (1894)

Short, atmospheric, and still quite potent despite its age, Arthur Machen's 1894 novella The Great God Pan is the perfect read for Halloween. At the time of its release it was dismissed as far too grotesque and decadent (those sound like good selling points to me). It has since gained quite a following. Stephen King once said, “The Great God Pan surmounts its rather clumsy prose and works its way relentlessly into the reader's terror-zone. How many sleepless nights has it caused? God knows, but a few of them were mine.” It's best to go into this one blind. (Buy it Here)

Zachary T. Owen is an arsonist and an author. You can find him on Twitter and other internet vacuums. His books can be found here.

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